Saturday, May 30, 2009

Limitation = Freedom?

Opening to Healing, mixed media, 9" x 12"

I can hardly believe that I am actually suggesting that limitations might be (gulp!) a path to freedom. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?

I first felt the odd feeling of limitations (boundaries, parameters, white picket fences, etc.) in grad school when writing poetry. I usually wrote poetry in free verse (organic form) and then started experimenting with traditional forms. I was resistant at first. A villanelle? A pantoum? A sonnet? Oh, how can I say what I need to say while following a formula? It will be like doing math! I need space and freedom!

To my surprise, writing in form opened me up. Working within constraints allowed me to think differently and surprising combinations of images and language arrived on the page. Because of the form. Thank you, Ms. Villanelle! Thank you, Mr. Pantoum!

So while here in Hawaii, my limitation comes in the form of art supplies. I am working with kiddie paint brushes and water colors and tourists magazines. No encaustic wax and thrift store books and acrylics and string. Oh, and I miss my very large supply of bird images.

The above piece is my first attempt at creating within the parameters of my supplies. I haven't watercolored in years! And I'm sure that those vibrant colors are inspired by the flowers here in Hawaii. Boundaries, specific environments, and limitations can free you up. Not all the time. Sometimes I need to push down doors and smear paint on the wall (figuratively, most of the time).

What limitation can you add to your creating life for a little trial run? One thing I sometimes do is spread out my collage images on a table, close my eyes, and pick seven images. I will use those seven images in my art. My mind and body usually figure out how to connect the images in meaningful ways. And there are always surprises.

Enjoy the play that comes with boundaries. You may discover that you actually burst through the boundaries while you work with them...

Aloha Mahalo,


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